One thing in gaming that I can't stand is when developers opt to steal ideas from others in lieu of creativity. Everything from Volume's artwork to gameplay to visual effects are clearly lifted from 1999's Metal Gear Solid VR Missions with little innovation besides the fact that it takes all of the challenge away in favour of some poorly implemented gimmicks.
You can already tell by my blunt intro that I'm not happy with the time I spent playing Volume. Considering The Phantom Pain is coming out in just a couple days, I figured this would whet my appetite. Instead, it has me looking forward to Tuesday for the opposite reason since I'm now in desperate need to play some fantastic stealth gameplay after I trudged my way through this drivel. If you'll excuse me, I need to take a deep breath so I can actually provide some insight instead of spending this whole review venting my anger.
First off, I started and completed Volume in merely one afternoon with absolutely no problem whatsoever. By the end, I thought I just finished a 100 level tutorial. This is the most prominent downside since it'll make any stealth veteran too complacent to continue. Not me, though, because I stupidly made a policy to beat every game that I review. Anyway, the lack of challenge stems from the fact that the enemy guards are incredibly idiotic and you have an array of pick-ups that make advancing past seemingly tricky parts a breeze. Once, a guard watched me enter a locker while in disguise. That's not out of the ordinary at all, right? They also give up searching for you almost as soon as you take cover out of their line of sight. It's absolutely ridiculous how easy it is to fool this group of invalids. It's the stealth equivalent of sneaking your way through a senior citizen's home at nap time.
One of the worst aspects of Volume is its pretentiousness. Almost every component is dripping in obvious allusions. No dialogue, text, or story segment is even remotely subtle, witty, or clever. For example, I was walking between some guards then read a note on the floor that said something like, "Can you feel the tension?" The fact that it was far from tense aside, this is the equivalent of a comedian saying, "Aren't I hilarious?" It's obnoxious and shouldn't be in a video game yet messages like these are littered throughout. Another note read to the effect of, "There's too much red in this room, but I think I did a good job creating it." Is the developer talking to me now? I realise it's supposed to be the entity that created the virtual reality, but come on. At one point, someone started rapping about the main character mid-game. It was so embarrassingly awful that I was tempted to shut it off and forgo this review entirely.
The story is basically about playing heist simulations that you eventually broadcast to the public. It's a modern take on Robin Hood and the main character is even named Robert Locksley. Couldn't they have put just a little bit of effort into subtlety? On top of all this clumsy rubbish, the characters almost never shut up. This is especially irritating when you retry from a checkpoint because they begin their contrived dialogue all over again. God forbid you enabled subtitles since they obscure a large portion of the screen thus rendering the game unplayable until the characters finally put a sock in it.
Probably the best part about Volume is the various items which allow you to stun enemies, turn invisible, make noises in the distance, and open locked partitions. These can actually be mildly amusing to experiment with, but they make the game even easier than it is already. Also, it makes me wonder; if this is a simulation then how come you can throw an item then watch it slowly bounce off three or four invisible walls at perfect angles? I'd like to see someone try to rob a real bank with tricks like this. If the guards there are as dimwitted as the ones in Volume then maybe they deserve to be robbed. For creative types, the ability to craft and share your own levels is a welcome addition but with so many games that have this feature and include substantially better core gameplay, why even bother?
Keep in mind that Metal Gear Solid VR Missions wasn't even that great of a game. I mean, it's good, but considering it came out 16 years ago, how is 2015's Volume so much worse? It's inexcusable. Also, I noticed Hideo Kojima (the creator of Metal Gear) was listed in the "Special Thanks" portion of Volume's end credits. I sure hope he's collecting some well deserved royalty cheques, too. If all he gets from this is just a simple "thanks" then Volume itself must be some sort of metagame where players broadcast heist simulations while in reality the developers are robbing a true visionary.
- + Variety of item pick-ups are interesting to experiment with
- + You can create and share levels
- - Basically a boring shameless rip-off of Snake's superior VR Missions
- - Unchallenging gameplay gets old fast
- - Pretentious to an obnoxious degree